Proactive Solutions Reduce Bear Incidents

Proactive Livestock Management

Proactive Solutions

Livestock depredation by carnivores such as bears, cougars and wolves is a major concern for agricultural producers in Alberta. Between 2009 and 2012, over 1/3 of all grizzly bear relocations have been as a result of bears attacking livestock. See Grizzly Bear Conservation in Alberta Annual Reports. There are preventative actions one can take to reduce the chances of bears attacking livestock. One example is the use of electric fence.

In 2012 Bear Conflict Solutions (BCS) partnered with a landowner in southern Alberta to try and prevent grizzly bears from predating on his ranched elk. This rancher had lost 15 elk over a two year period to grizzly bears. The bears had learned to dig under his 8 foot high elk fence. This situation became a losing proposition for grizzly bears as well as 4 different bears were trapped and relocated from this property. In discussions with officials from Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD), electric fence was identified as a potential proactive solution to this problem. As a result, the landowner took the initiative to erect a single strand electric fence around his 3 mile stretch of fenced elk corrals. BCS agreed to provide some financial support towards the project. The fence was completed in the summer of 2012 and there have been no grizzly bear incidents since that time.

Attractant Management 2012

Proactive Solutions

Unsecured attractants are a major concern for residents living and working in bear country. In southwest Alberta, livestock feed continues to be a main cause of human bear conflict. It is often the result of inadequate grain storage such as grain sheds with holes in the walls/doors or faulty doors on metal grain bins. There are systems in place to address these deficiencies.

In 2012, Bear Conflict Solutions (BCS) partnered with Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) and a southern Alberta rancher to address the continuing problem of bears accessing unsecured grain on his property. This area had seen a number of grizzly bears accessing unsecured grain resulting in the relocation of at least two grizzly bears over the last few years. BCS, in partnership with ESRD and the landowner, purchased a used sea canister to secure the grain. The landowner covered the costs of picking up the container and retrofitting it to meet his needs. The end result is a secure grain bin that has resulted in no grain-related human–bear conflict since the container was installed in July 2012.

Program Update:

Greater Yellowstone Coalition along with Bridger Teton National Forest in Montana have started using the retrofitted shipping canisters based on information and advice about this program. Click to read this story, Turpin, Pacific Creek get bear-proof boxes, in the JH News and Guide. Additional requests for containers have been received as well as information requests from Montana State Parks for issues with black bears they’ve had on the Smith River. Good ideas are spreading.


NCC Conservation Speaker Series: Resolving human-bear conflict

NCC Conservation Speaker Series invites you and your guests to:

Resolving human-bear conflict with Jay Honeyman

Thursday February 16, 2012

Calgary Golf and Country Club

Reception at 6:30, Presentation to follow

RSVP to Linda Stenvall by February 10, 2012 or phone 403 817-2100


Jay Honeyman has been working with grizzly bears for over 25 years and received his MSc in Environmental Management from Royal Roads University in 2007. He has worked with the Wind River Bear Institute assisting agencies in various provincial, state and federal government agencies in resolving their human bear conflict issues. He is the Executive Director of Bear Conflict Solutions Institute. He currently works as a Bear Conflict Biologist for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development in Canmore, Alberta.

NCC’s Conservation Speaker Series is made possible through the support of Bill & Kathy Friley & Family for your enjoyment at no cost to you and your guests. Please enjoy this opportunity for mingling, light refreshments and a special presentation.

Please note that business attire is required at the Calgary Golf & Country Club – no blue jeans. The Calgary Golf & Country Club is located at Elbow Drive & 50th Ave SW Calgary.

Nature Conservancy of Canada – Alberta Region


Attractant Management program reduces human-bear interactions

SECURING SUCH UNNATURAL ATTRACTANTS as garbage and birdfeeders does not necessarily mean your bear problems are over. Bears are on a continual search for food and if natural foods are available within communities or other developed sites, bears will come. These bears, as with garbage and birdfeeders can become habituated and/or food conditioned, resulting in bears being relocated or euthanized out of concern for public safety. Removing the natural food source within developed areas will encourage bears to move to other more natural areas to feed. This can reduce the level of human bear interactions, reducing public safety concerns and associated human caused bear mortality. By removing natural attractants within developed areas, grizzly bears will be encouraged to move to other areas such as existing wildlife corridors and habitat patches. This will reduce human bear interactions and associated human caused bear mortality. This will contribute to the goal of maintaining habitat connectivity and reducing human caused wildlife mortality in the Bow Valley.

The Bow Valley and Rocky Mountain parks west of Calgary, Alberta have been experimenting with this concept for a number of years now. Bear Conflict Solutions, in cooperation with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASRD), Alberta Tourism Parks and Recreation (ATPR), the Town of Canmore and Municipal District of Bighorn and with funds from the Kananaskis Legacy Fund through Alberta Ecotrust, continue to remove buffalo berry and other berry producing shrubs from developed sites in the Region. This program is testing a bioherbicide on berry producing vegetation. The bio-herbicide is intended to impede regrowth of the freshly cut vegetation, thereby negating the need to return to the area in the future to recut regrowth. This will result in a more cost effective method of attractant removal than is currently in place. Currently, areas will grow back every 5 to 7 years, requiring recutting and additional funding resources.

The objectives of this program are:

  • To reduce grizzly and black bear activity within developed sites including townsites, campgrounds and picnic areas. This will reduce human-bear interactions, improve public safety and the resulting human caused bear mortality
  • To impede regrowth of natural bear attractants within developed sites through the cutting and subsequent application of a bio herbicide
  • To educate the public on the benefits of removing natural attractants from both public and private lands i.e. their homes

Bear Hazard Assessments highlight potential for problems in communities

Bear Conflict SolutionsTHE INSTITUTE is a specialist in developing and producing Bear Hazard Assessments for communities in bear country. These assessments identify areas of high use bear habitat and areas of past and present human-bear conflict. They also identify future potential problem areas based on forecasted human use and development and provide recommendations on how to reduce conflict in the future.

In 2008, a Bear Hazard Assessment was compiled in conjunction with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development for Canmore, Alberta and the surrounding Bow Valley lands east of Banff National Park. It is one component of multiple “Bear Smart” initiatives within Canmore and the Bow Valley that began in 2005. CLICK TO VIEW OR DOWNLOAD (1.1 MB)

The question of whether or not wildlife and development can coexist in the Bow Valley is discussed in an article by Karsten Heuer (2009) entitled “The Big Squeeze”. CLICK TO VIEW OR DOWNLOAD (507KB)

The Institute recently completed a Bear Hazard Assessment for Bragg Creek, Alberta for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development as part of the provinces’ ongoing Alberta BearSmart Program initiative. CLICK TO VIEW OR DOWNLOAD (1.6 MB)

Photo: D. Chadwick monitoring 2 young grizzly bears in NW Montana. Photo by Derek Reich